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Central Africa is experiencing rapid urbanisation, and this situation comes along with changes in food habits and an increased prevalence of obesity and associated health risks. Factors influencing dietary intake among the diverse African populations are not well understood. Our objective was to characterise the dietary intake and their determinants in the two main ethnic groups experiencing nutrition transition in Cameroon, the Bamiléké and the Béti. We sampled Bamiléké (381) and Béti (347) adults living in both rural and urban, collected socio-demographic variables, assessed dietary patterns by using a food portion photographs book to administrate a FFQ and a 24-h dietary recall technique and derived their BMI from measured weight and height. The dietary patterns of Bamiléké people were composed of more energy-dense foods than the Béti people, regardless of the living area. The energy intake (13·8 (sd 4·6)–15·4 (sd 4·8) MJ v. 9·7 (sd 3·5)–11·2 (sd 3·9 MJ) and the obesity (15–29 % v. 5–8 %) were therefore higher in Bamiléké than in Béti, respectively. Multivariable linear regression analyses showed strong associations of both ethnicities (4·02 MJ; P < 0·001), living area (0·21 MJ; P < 0·001) and education (0·59 MJ; P < 0·048) with energy intake, independently of each other and other socio-demographic factors. The ethnicity factor has been characterised as the more important determinant of diet. Our findings provide new insights and perspectives highlighting the importance of anthropological factors when building prevention campaigns against obesity in Central Africa.
Traditional transect survey methods for forest antelopes often underestimate density for common species and do not provide sufficient data for rarer species. The use of camera trapping as a survey tool for medium and large terrestrial mammals has become increasingly common, especially in forest habitats. Here, we applied the distance sampling method to images generated from camera-trap surveys in Dja Faunal Reserve, Cameroon, and used an estimate of the proportion of time animals are active to correct for negative bias in the density estimates from the 24-hour camera-trap survey datasets. We also used multiple covariate distance sampling with body weight as a covariate to estimate detection probabilities and densities of rarer species. These methods provide an effective tool for monitoring the status of individual species or a community of forest antelope species, information urgently needed for conservation planning and action.
Chapter 5 sets the stage for the rest of the story. While several infectious agents were exported from Africa to the Americas and the Caribbean during the slave trade, this was not the case with HIV, which indirectly confirms its relatively recent emergence in central African populations. This chapter briefly tells the story of the European colonisation of central Africa by France and Belgium. It explains how the Franco-Belgian incursion in south-east Cameroon during World War I (1914–16) created much greater intermingling of populations and may have provided a route for HIV to reach the Stanley Pool.
Chapter 1 starts by describing how, shortly after HIV was identified as the cause of AIDS, it became increasingly clear that the virus originated in Africa. Tests of archival blood samples, retrospective confirmation of early cases of AIDS and comparison of the genetic diversity of HIV in different parts of the world all pointed to central Africa, and especially the two Congos, as the probable location for the beginning of HIV’s journey. Studies of HIV subtypes provide the foundation for reconstructing the complex routes followed by the virus across the world. The example of Cuba illustrates how geopolitical events influenced the spread of HIV. The first epidemic of Ebola fever in a bush hospital in the Congo, as well as recent epidemics in the same country and in West Africa, are used to explain the peculiar characteristics of HIV that enabled it to cause a pandemic.
Chapter 4 provides background data about the hunting of apes in central Africa and reviews four different hypotheses concerning the potential mechanism of the original cross-species transmission event from chimpanzee to human. After careful analysis, three of these hypotheses can be rejected: an experimental oral poliomyelitis vaccine in the preparation of which chimpanzee cells were allegedly used, medical experiments during which chimpanzee blood was injected into humans, and testicular transplants pioneered by maverick surgeon Serge Voronoff. The only mechanism that remains plausible is the ‘cut hunter’ theory, namely that a hunter, or perhaps a hunter’s wife, was accidentally infected with the simian virus when injured while handling a chimpanzee carcass in the forest or their village. From estimates that provide an order of magnitude of the frequency of such events, it seems certain that no more than a handful of early twentieth-century hunters were occupationally infected with the chimpanzee virus.
Chapter 6 explains how the process of colonisation profoundly altered the ways of life of peoples in the Belgian Congo, Moyen-Congo and Cameroon, through accelerated urbanisation and the pronounced gender imbalance in the cities that resulted from colonial policies. It focuses on Léopoldville, which for a few decades was essentially a labour camp. The chapter ends with a review of how the Stanley Pool, where Léopoldville and Brazzaville were located, has always been the natural terminus for all traffic in the huge River Congo basin, and thus a melting pot of dozens of ethnic groups.
This article examines the Baluba Association of Katanga (Balubakat) from its creation in 1957 until its dissolution in 1964, as well as its leader Jason Sendwe. Despite not receiving much scholarly coverage hitherto, Sendwe and the Balubakat played an important part in undermining the Katangese secession, along with the UN and the Congolese National Army (ANC). This article's focus on the Balubakat and Sendwe challenges the traditional historical focus on top parties, such as the National Congolese Movement (MNC), and their leaders, such as Patrice Lumumba, when examining Congolese decolonisation. Sendwe's pragmatic, non-aligned stance helped the Balubakat maintain the support of powerful institutions, such as the Great Lakes Railway Company (CFL). His ability to hold the Balubakat together also derived from its members’ common wish to oppose the Katangese secession. Yet the efficacy of Sendwe's leadership was best demonstrated after the party disbanded following his assassination.
Northeastern Central African Republic - a vast space bordering Chad, Darfur, and South Sudan - is a quintessential 'stateless' space, where the government has little presence and armed actors operate freely. In this first ethnographic and historical study of Central African raiding, Louisa Lombard investigates practices of forceful acquisition, a distinctive political repertoire in which claims to social status are linked to the ability to take (from wild spaces, or from others) and are frequently overturned. People have developed raiding skills to survive and live in a stateless borderland for over 150 years. From the trans-Saharan slave trade, to colonial forced labour regimes, big game hunting and coercive conservation, to rebellion, raiding has flourished where people's status in relation to each other is unclear and where institutional guidance is absent. Hunting Game offers rich comparative insights into the vibrant, if not always salutary, role that forceful acquisition plays in the world today.
East and Central Africa were among the last regions to be colonized by European powers in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Due to limited trade with the region, along with more fragmented indigenous political organization in many colonies, colonial governments faced a particularly challenging task of establishing fiscal systems which would support the conquest and rule of these territories. This chapter examines the ways they tried to overcome these difficulties, focusing on the histories of the Belgian Congo, Kenya, Nyasaland, Northern Rhodesia, Southern Rhodesia, Tanganyika and Uganda. In all of these, the imperial powers made use of older tools of colonial rule, including settlement and the outsourcing of government to chartered companies, but the implementation of these were shaped by the circumstances of the period. The chapter argues that these early policies influenced the development of both taxation and public spending during and after the colonial period. In particular, colonial and post-independence governments were more dependent on direct taxation, and faced fierce debates about the distribution of public spending.
Stictococcus vayssierei is a major pest of root and tuber crops in central Africa. However, data on its ecology are lacking. Here we provide an updated estimate of its distribution with the aim of facilitating the sustainable control of its populations. Surveys conducted in nine countries encompassing 13 ecological regions around the Congo basin showed that African root and tuber scale was present in Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Democratic Republic of Congo, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon and Uganda. It was not found on the sites surveyed in Chad and Nigeria. The pest occurred in the forest and the forest-savannah mosaic as well as in the savannah where it was never recorded before. However, prevalence was higher in the forest (43.1%) where cassava was the most infested crop, compared to the savannah (9.2%) where aroids (cocoyam and taro) were the most infested crops. In the forest habitat, the pest was prevalent in all but two ecological regions: the Congolian swamp forests and the Southern Congolian forest-savanna mosaic. In the savannah habitat, it was restricted to the moist savannah highlands and absent from dry savannahs. The scale was not observed below 277 m asl. Where present, the scale was frequently (87.1% of the sites) attended by the ant Anoplolepis tenella. High densities (>1000 scales per plant) were recorded along the Cameroon–Gabon border. Good regulatory measures within and between countries are required to control the exchange of plant materials and limit its spread. The study provides information for niche modeling and risk mapping.
Soil has been proposed as a driver explaining the development of monodominant forests in the tropics, for example, Gilbertiodendron dewevrei forests (GDF) in central Africa. The aim of this study was to compare the physical and chemical properties of soils under GDF with those under an adjacent mixed forest (AMF), while controlling for topography. To this end, we set up sixteen 0.25-ha plots according to forest type and topography (plateau vs. bottomland), in the Yoko forest reserve, Democratic Republic of Congo. In each plot, we measured litter thickness and collected a total of 80 soil samples at depths of 0–5, 5–10, 10–20, 20–40 and 120–150 cm, for standard physical and chemical analyses. When controlling for topography and soil texture, we found that most of the chemical properties of soils under GDF did not differ from those of soils under AMF, particularly acidity, cation concentration, total N and the C:N ratio. The litter layer was 2.3 times thicker under GDF than under AMF stands, and, for a given texture, soils under GDF had a slightly higher organic C concentration in the 0–5 cm soil layer. This study suggests that G. dewevrei stands modify organic matter dynamics, which may be important in maintaining its monodominance.
Information on the distribution and abundance of the forest elephant Loxodonta cyclotis is needed to allocate limited resources appropriately and set conservation goals for the species. However, monitoring at large scales in forest habitats is complicated, expensive and time consuming. We investigated the potential of applying interview-based occupancy analysis as a tool for the rapid assessment of the distribution and relative abundance of forest elephants in eastern Cameroon. Using single-season occupancy models, we explored the covariates that affect forest elephant occupancy and detectability, and identified spatial and temporal patterns in population change and occupancy. Quantitative and qualitative socio-demographic data offer additional depth and understanding, placing the occupancy analysis in context and providing valuable information to guide conservation action. Detectability of forest elephants has decreased since 2008, which is consistent with the decline in perceived abundance in occupied sites. Forest elephants occupy areas outside protected areas and outside the known elephant range defined by IUCN. Critical conservation attention is required to assess forest elephant populations and the threats they face in these poorly understood areas. Interview-based occupancy analysis is a reliable and suitable method for a rapid assessment of forest elephant occupancy on a large scale, as a complement to, or the first stage in, a monitoring process.
In northeast Congo, from c. 1890–1940, ritually-empowered militias of Bali Leopard-men, or anioto, killed people on behalf of local leaders to secure access to land, resources, and people and to keep rivals and subjects in check. Belgian colonial authorities portrayed the actions of anioto as an irrational disturbance, ignoring their political relevance. The contextualized study of colonial-era conflicts based on court hearings, in association with anthropological, historical, and material sources, gives insight into emic perspectives. As militias controlled by different leaders, they reflected human adaptability in dealing with social ills, performed judicial functions, and provided therapeutic relief through violence. Originating in the precolonial era, anioto adapted to various strategic needs throughout history. A study of different manifestations of anioto reveals the creative and amalgamating nature of institutional dynamism in northeast Congo. Better knowledge of this institutional history, based on studying conflicts from the past, may enrich our deeper understanding of the dynamics of conflicts in the present.